Frozen In Time: 20-Day Trek Through Siberian Winter (2004)

In 2004 Sveta Kovalchuk trekked for 20 days through Siberia. “We lived in tents, without a stove… 20 days we lived on a minimum amount of food,” she wrote to us. “Temperature all the time was minus-20 to minus-27 C.”

Kovalchuk moved to the United States, to Minnesota, two years ago with her young daughter. We know her from the local bike scene as well as her daring winter swimming habit (yes, as in swimming in un-frozen open stretches of lakes in the winter!).

The Siberia trip, which Kovalchuk describes as “20 days of adrenaline,” came to the surface last month when she submitted a photo to a GearJunkie contest. It was so stark and different (see the igloo image below) that we had to dig.

A shelter from the minus-20 degree cold

Kovalchuk revealed, “On the Siberia trek I had frostbite on my face, hands and feet. We built an igloo at an altitude of about 3,000 meters and we lived in it for two days. Then there was the ascent of Mount Munku-Sardyk. It was the most wonderful campaign in my life.”

These images below, scanned from photos taken nine years ago, capture that wonder and the frozen, desolate world Siberia is in the heart of the Russian winter.

—Stephen Regenold

For three weeks the group trekked through remote winter wilderness

Sveta Kovalchuk

Siberian trekking group

Into the woods somewhere deep in Siberia

Ice axes and big packs in the mountains

Kicking steps toward the summit of Mount Munku-Sardyk

Remote mountain top

View from summit

Anchors on a rappel

“Energy food”

Wilderness cabin provides respite from Siberian cold

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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